The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced $1.8 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants for 55 nonprofit land trusts across the State. Representatives of the DEC and the Land Trust Alliance unveiled the grantees at an event today in Skaneateles, in Onondaga County, in recognition of Earth Week, a weeklong celebration of New York’s commitment and accomplishments to protecting our environment, conserving open space and increasing access to the state’s vast and magnificent natural resources.

“Land trusts continue to make a difference in local communities, maximizing public and private dollars to protect and preserve our state’s natural resources for generations to come,” said Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Through partnerships like these, the Environmental Protection Fund provides critical support for many environmental and open space programs, generating revenue, creating jobs, and ensuring a cleaner and healthier New York.”

The grants, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will leverage an additional $2.25 million in private and local funding to support projects that will protect farmland, wildlife habitat and water quality, enhance public access for outdoor recreational opportunities, and conserve priority open space areas important for community health, tourism and regional economic development. The Land Trust Alliance administers the Conservation Partnership Program in coordination with DEC.

“DEC’s work with land trusts is essential in our efforts to conserve and protect New York’s valuable natural resources and this program is a clear example of the partnerships that have made a difference in preserving open space,” Seggos said. “Governor Cuomo’s historic $300 million budget for the Environmental Protection Fund, will help support the work of the state’s Land Trusts to be effective stewards of important habitats in the state for generations to come.”

The 13th round of Conservation Partnership Program grants, administered by DEC, will help local land trusts sustain and expand community and landowner outreach initiatives and develop an array of land conservation, stewardship and education programs.

The grants will further regional economic development goals by strengthening partnerships with local and state governments and advancing locally supported efforts to protect working farms, enhance public access and recreation opportunities, and conserve private lands prioritized in New York State’s Open Space Conservation Plan and state wildlife action plan. Land trusts will also apply grant funds to prepare for national accreditation, supporting New York land trust commitments to rigorous national standards for nonprofit governance and organizational excellence.

“This pioneering initiative enables land trusts, local communities and private landowners to better protect New York’s most important water resources, farmland, wildlife habitat and urban green space such as community gardens,” said Andrew Bowman, president of the Land Trust Alliance. “We also applaud New York’s tremendous progress in strengthening the Environmental Protection Fund in this year’s state budget. Individually and together, these are smart investments promoting healthy communities, strategic land conservation and environmental stewardship. On behalf of the Land Trust Alliance and its supporters, I thank Governor Cuomo, Acting Commissioner Seggos and the New York State Legislature.”

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